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Showing posts from 2019

AlphaGo and what was not understood, I think.

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I saw the Netflix documentary on AlphaGo, an AI/Neural Network program to play Go. I can highly recommend it, even though the events tool place in 2016. It is a very human story. 

The long and the short of it is that, as usual, experts in a certain domain believe that a computer will never be able to do what they do. And then AlphaGo beat the world champion of Go, Lee Sedol , 4 games to 1. 




Lee Sedol seems to me to be a nice bloke who fought an heroic fight against the machine.  But what struck me was what he said at the end. That AlphaGo had made him rethink his way of playing, he would learn from the machine. But I think that is impossible, AlphaGo's "reasoning" is nothing like ours. Which is why AI / Neural Networks can uncover hidden patterns and strategies. Because they do not think like humans. Our experience sometimes limits us. Well designed neural networks have no such limits.

One of the Go commentators said during the documentary that move 37 by Alpha Go was crea…

Whatever happened to Intentional Software of Simonyi?

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I've been reading "Dreaming In Code" by Scott Rosenberg. 



It is a bit dated (published in 2007) but that doesn't matter because the human programmer's nature has not changed in the last 50 years. So almost every mistake comically documented there...I've made too.

One of the things that struck me was Charles Simonyi's idea for improving programming practice. A sort of interpreter of a human expert's intentions into computer code. I did not believe it would work. From the book: 

"Simonyi's company Intentional Software is, in a way, an attempt to apply the WYSIWYG principle to the act of programming itself. But Simonyi's enthusiastic descriptions of the brave new software world his invention will shape leave a central question unanswered: Will Intentional Software give the subject matter experts a flexible way to express their needs directly to the machine (i.e. the computer) - or will it demand that nonprogrammer experts submit themselves to t…

A processing failure

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A strange thing happened when I switched on the TV to watch some sport recently. For a minute I just saw this, a flat defintely 2d shape, with no relation to reality:



It was not a problem with the TV, it was a problem with the visual processing in my brain. For a few seconds it had failed to recreate the image at the bottom of this article.

I was reminded of the bloke referred to in the title of "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" by Oliver Sacks. The patient had no apparent optical/physical problems. He just could no longer interpret the signals coming into his brain from his eyes. When he got up to leave he grabbed his wife's head, thinking it was his hat. The shapes no longer made any sense. There was a signal processing failure.

And that is what must have happened to me, very briefly, because what I was looking at resolved itself into this, in the end (scroll down):












(Snooker and rugby, the only two sports I watch.)






Learning to limp

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The handle of our teapot had an accident. I delayed ordering a new one, though I do love the design and feel of it. So, in the meantime, I got used to making the tea with the broken teapot, cupping the scorching body with my hands.

Eventually I did order a replacement and for days I forgot that the new teapot had a handle and held it awkwardly, as if it didn't.


In Italian there is a saying:

"chi va con lo zoppo impara a zoppicare"
A rough translation is "he who hangs around with people who limp, will learn to limp himself." But I had learned to limp all on my own. And I wonder in what other areas I've learned to limp when I'm perfectly able bodied/minded?
(The teapot, by the way, is a Ulster Weavers 6-Cup Susie Bone China Teapot.)